Lt.-Col. W.D. Otter, CO, 2 Bn RCRI, Official Reports Part 1

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Lt.-Col. W.D. Otter, CO, 2 Bn RCRI, Official Reports Part 1

Postby Spañiard » 14 Jun 2017 02:32

The below are excerpts, for more....Lt.-Col. William D. Otter, CO, 2nd SS Bn. RCRI, Second South African War, 1899-1900 Official Reports.

From the Officer commanding the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Canada.

Paardeberg Drift, February 26, 1900. —
Sir, — I have the honour to report upon the part taken by the battalion under ray command in the engagement at Paardeberg on the 18th. inst. The battalion arrived near Paardeberg drift with the 19th brigade at 6 a.m. of the 18th inst., having formed the rear guard to the brigade in its march during the night from Klip drift, a distance of 22 miles.

Within half an hour of the arrival of the battalion orders were received to be ready to parade at 7 a.m., and at 7.20 am, the battalion moved out to support the artillery, about a mile away. The men in the meantime had had a biscuit and a cup of tea. Hardly had the battalion reached the place designated than it was ordered to move to the drift and cross the river. This was done, and the crossing began at about 8.30 a.m. The current ran 9 miles an hour, while the water was sufficiently deep to reach up to the men’s armpits. Two crossings were used about, 50 yards apart, over one of which a rope stretched, by which the men passed across by holding on to it, and at the other the men passed over in fours with linked arms...............

Firing began about 9.30 a.m. from the enemy’s left at very long ranges, and continued along their front towards the centre. The advance of the battalion took place over perfectly open ground, somewhat undulating, and with no cover, save the inequalities of the ground and a few ant hills. The firing line attained a position from the enemy, varying from 400 yards on the right to 800 yards on the left, where it remained until late in the afternoon. After the establishment of the firing line, the enemy’s fire was for some time very severe, and Capt. Arnold, who had been doing most excellent service, was mortally wounded, and many others hit.

During this time, three or four men in reserve (‘H’ Company) were wounded at a distance of over sixteen hundred yards (1,600.) At noon ‘D’ Company reinforced the firing line, and shortly afterwards ‘E’ and part of ‘B’ Company also reinforced, the remainder of ‘B’., ‘F’ and ‘G’ Companies becoming supports with ‘H’ still in reserve. Only one Maxim gun could be crossed, and that was soon got into position by -, Capt. Bell on the rising ground to the left at a distance of some 1,000 yards, where it did most excellent service during the day, being in a position to keep down the lire of the enemy, who occupied the dongas on our left. A battery of field artillery occupied the hill on our left rear, and shelled the enemy’s line at intervals during the day. The fire discipline of the several companies engaged was excellent, and perfect coolness as well as accurate shooting was maintained........................

At about 4 p.m., three companies of the Duke of Cornwall’s L.I. under Lt. Col. Aldworth came up, and this officer informed me that ‘he had been sent to finish this business, and proposed doing so with the bayonet. ‘He then asked for information respecting our own position, and that of the enemy, which I gave him. One company of the Cornwalls was at once sent into the firing line, followed in twenty minutes by the other two. These reinforcements being received by a very heavy fire from the whole length of the enemy’s front.

Paardeberg Battle 1st Engagement, Position Of IX Division In Which Was 2nd Royal Canadian Regiment. Feb. 18th 1900.

At 5 p.m., Lt.-Col. Aldworth notified me that a general advance would take place, and at about 5.15 p.m. the whole line, with the exception of part of ‘G’ and ‘H’ Companies, which were held in reserve, went forward with a rush. The fire of the enemy became intense, and after an advance of about 200 yards, effectually stopped our men, and no further progress could be made. The loss to both the corps taking part in the charge was very severe, Lt.-Col. Aldworth and his Adjutant being killed, while Lieut. Mason of ours was wounded severely........................

The position gained was, however, held, and a continuous heavy fire maintained until darkness set in about 7 p.m., when I gave the order to collect the dead and wounded and withdraw to the bivouac at the drift. The enemy also withdrew from their position at the same time to the Boer laager, some two miles up the river, leaving a few men in the dongas on our left, who continued ‘sniping’ our collecting parties until about 10 p.m. Many instances of individual bravery were displayed during the day, as for example the case of No. 8110, Pt. Kennedy, who led one of the ammunition mules right up to the firing line where it was instantly killed. The company stretcher bearers exhibited great pluck, and five of them were among the wounded; three were wounded in carrying Capt. Arnold from the firing line, the stretcher upon which he was, being made a special object of attention by the Boer marksmen. In connection with this incident, I must note the courage displayed by Surg. Capt. Fiset, who when the stretcher upon which Capt. Arnold was being brought to the rear was stopped a short distance from the firing line by the wounding of one of the bearers, went forward and attended to Capt. Arnold, and subsequently assisted as a bearer in bringing him to the rear. .......................

The collection of the dead and wounded of both our own battalion, and those of the Duke of Cornwall’s L. I., was made by parties of the Royal Canadians and continued all night. The duty was a most onerous one, and too much credit cannot be given to those who were engaged in it By 7 a.m. of the 19th inst., all the dead of the Battalion were buried, beside many of those of the D. C. L. I., and the wounded sent to the rear. I must here place on record the great services rendered by the R. C. Chaplain of the Battalion, the Rev. Father O’Leary, who was present in the field all day and towards the end in the firing line, while during the night he was prominent in the search for the wounded, as well as officiating in the burial of the dead. Several of the officers accompanied these parties up to midnight while, No. 685 Q. M. Sergt. E. Reading, No. 7304 Sergt. J. H. Ramage, No. 7302 Sergt. H. Middleton, and No. 7253 Pte R. D. Whigham, were out all night on this duty.............

I have the honour to be, sir.
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt. Col.
Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.

Battle Map of Paardeberg Action Of 20th February 1900 Showing Disposition Of XIX Brigade.

From the Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Ottawa, Canada, Second Report.

— Paardeberg, February 27, 1900. — Sir,—I have the honour to report upon the operations upon which the battalion under my command was engaged on the 20th inst., on which occasion four men of the corps were wounded. Following the retirement of the enemy from the position, which he withdrew from on the evening of the 18th inst., the battalion was at 6 A.M. of the 20th inst. Detached from the outpost line, and advanced to within 1,000 yards of the trenches in front of the Boer laager, the Shropshire Light Infantry being on our right, the Gordon Highlanders on our left.

The ground occupied by the battalion was quite open, and slightly rolling, but fairly covered with ant hills. The men were served with tea and biscuits about 10 A.M.; the cook wagon and water cart being brought up to within 200 yards in rear of reserve.......................................

I have the honour to be, sir.
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt.-CoL,
Commanding ind. Batt., Royal Canadian Regiment.

From the Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to the Chief Staff Officer of Militia, Ottawa, Canada. —

Ossfontein, S. A., March 2, 1900. — Sir, — I have the honour to report on the action of the 27th ult., in which the battalion, under my command, was engaged. In accordance with instructions received from the General Officer Commanding the 19th Brigade, 9th Division, on the previous evening, the following disposition of the battalion was made by 10 p.m. of the 26th inst. In the main trench running north and south from the river, and beginning on the left, were placed “C,” “D,” “E,” “F,” “G,” and “H” Companies, under the following officer., viz.:—Capt. Barker, Capt. Rogers, Capt. Fraser, Lt. LeDuc, Lt. Macdonnell, and Capt. Stairs, respectively ; while on the extreme right was a party of 30 Engineers. This trench was about 350 yards long, the right of it resting within 25 yards of the river, and 550 yards from the nearest Boer trench. The force placed in this trench numbered 500 officers and men of the battalion; “A” Company, under Lieut. Blanchard, remained on the south side of the river, where it had been detailed for special duty on the morning of the 26th and was posted just opposite the line of the main trench continued southwards, while “B” Company, under Lieut. Ross, and a few details formed reserve at the bivouac, some 300 yards to the rear, and the wagons were fully 1000 yds. to the rear again. The continuation of the main trench from where it turned to the north-east was occupied by 200 of the Gordon Highlanders, and about 1500 yds on our left was the Shropshire Light Infantry..........................

The line advanced without interruption for about 450 yards, when it was met by a terrific fire from the enemy. The premature discharge of a couple of shots just before the general fusillade served as a warning to many of our men, who instantly threw themselves on the ground, but the effect of the fire was disastrous to us; ‘H’ company’ being in the wood on the river bank did not suffer, but ‘G’ and ‘F’ companies, being in the open, lost heavily, the former having 4 killed and 12 wounded, the latter 2 killed and 9 wounded. ‘G’ company was within 65 yards (actual measurement) of the advanced trench of the enemy when fire was opened on them. The companies on the left, ‘E,’ ‘D’ and ‘C’ being from 75 to 100 yards distant from a subsidiary trench in prolongation of the enemy’s line...................................

Battle Map of Paardeberg Cronjes Laager, DCRI XIX Bde, Morning of Surrender Feb., 27th 1900.

General Sir Hy. Colville, commanding the division, had come up about 6.15 and directed the disposal of the prisoners, sending forward an officer into the nearest part of the Boer laager to make terms of surrender, the result of which was the unconditional capitulation of General Cronje and his whole force, numbering upwards of 4,000. Capt. Stairs and Lieut. Macdonell, with their companies, deserve the greatest credit for their pertinacity in holding on as they did, the result of which undoubtedly had a material effect in hastening the final result achieved. The supporting companies of the Gordon Highlanders were not engaged, although the trench which protected them was subjected to a fairly heavy fire from the enemy........................

I attach a sketch of the positions occupied, and a list of those killed and wounded in the day’s operations. The night was starlight, with the moon in the last quarter at 4 a.m. The various actions beginning on 18th, and concluding on 27th February have been denominated Paardeberg.

I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant,
W. D. OTTER, Lt.-Col.
Commanding 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment.


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